49ers notes: Defense clamps down on Bills


49ers notes: Defense clamps down on Bills


SAN FRANCISCO -- Oh, yeah, we almost forgot . . . the 49ers' defense was pretty good, too.The 49ers held their second consecutive opponent without a touchdown on Sunday in the team's 45-3 thumping of the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. A week earlier, the 49ers humbled the New York Jets with a 34-0 victory in New Jersey.
The Bills entered Sunday's game averaging 28.8 points a game. They were held to three points and managed just 204 yards of total offense against the 49ers' stout defense.
"That's big in the NFL when you can shut down a team that averaged that many points to three (points), then your defense played a good game," said outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who recorded the 49ers' only sack."Defensively, (it was) outstanding as well," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "Great team defense, great team victory."The 49ers' offense will get the headlines after churning out a club-record 621 yards. But a lot of the credit goes to the defense for allowing just 10 first downs to the Bills and keeping them off the field."The defense helped us, too, because they got us out on the field," 49ers right tackle Anthony Davis said.Cornerback Chris Culliver intercepted a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass at the San Francisco 2-yard line in the middle of the third quarter. That was the Bills' best opportunity get into the end zone.
FIRST-PITCH FOLLIES: Quarterback Alex Smith might have been off the mark with his ceremonial first pitch on Saturday night prior to the Giants' opening playoff game against the Cincinnati Reds. But he had a ready-made excuse."Yeah, I was keeping the ball down," Smith quipped. "Isn't that what good pitchers do? I was working the count, I had an open base."It was great. Last night was awesome. All jokes aside. It was great. Today, though, was the best. To get a win like this, a team win like this across the board."Smith completed 18 of 24 pass attempts for 303 yards and three touchdowns.INJURY REPORT: Alex Smith underwent a post-game X-ray on his right middle finger. X-rays were negative and both Smith and Harbaugh said it was just a sprain.Earlier, Harbaugh said he thought the injury was to Smith's non-throwing hand. But, as it turned out, Smith's finger on his throwing hand was wrapped.The 49ers did not appear to sustain any injuries in the game. The 49ers were completely healthy for the game. Veteran running back Brandon Jacobs, who went through a full week of practice, is healthy. But Jacobs was one of the team's seven inactive players.
NIT-PICKING PENALTIES : The 49ers saw three significant plays wiped out in the first half due to penalties.Vernon Davis had a 21-yard reception that came back due to Mike Iupati's holding penalty. Michael Crabtree had a 41-yard catch that was nullified by Frank Gore's chop block. And Colin Kaepernick had a 14-yard run that did not count because of Delanie Walker's tripping penalty."We had some frustrating penalties in the first half," 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "But we came in at halftime and regrouped. Just decided we're going to start over."Said Gore, "You think about it, we were still hurting ourselves. We left a lot out there."In the game, the 49ers were penalized seven times for 53 yards."We obviously have to cut down on the penalties," Staley said. "That killed us early. We probably left about 100 yards out there on the field today, which is scary because that's how good our offense can be."SMITH-WILLIAMS CONNECTION: Alex Smith's 43-yard touchdown reception to Kyle Williams on a back-shoulder throw in the second quarter was not how the play was designed."That was the quarterback," coach Jim Harbaugh said. "We practice back-shoulder throws and things like that, but we'd never done it on that play, that particular play. That was great improvisation by both Alex and Kyle."Said Williams, "That was just a great throw by him. Honestly, I've got to give him all the credit because he saw where the DB was positioned, he saw he was up high on me, so he put it in a place where only I could get it. It was a great play by him. He played great today. He played awesome."KAEPERNICK PACKAGE : Backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick committed the 49ers' only turnover when the Bills recovered his fumble at the Buffalo 17-yard line. But the 49ers did not pull the plug on Kaepernick after that."They just told me to come back and keep playing," Kaepernick said. "That was the biggest thing everybody told me."Kapernick finished the game with 39 rushing yards, including a 16-yard touchdown run, on four carries."A lot of times we get in the open field because our offensive line is doing a great job," Kaepernick said. "(Fullback) Bruce (Miller) had some key blocks today when I was in there. They were just giving me a lot of space out there."BY THE NUMBERS : Jim Harbaugh has 18 victories in 23 games (including playoffs) as head coach. That's the same number of victories that Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary achieved in 55 and 40 games, respectively. . . The 49ers' 311 yards rushing was the most for the team since Dec. 14, 1998, vs. the Detroit Lions, when the 49ers rushed for 328 yards. . . It's the fourth-most rushing yards in franchise history . . . The 49ers improved to 24-7 when Gore rushes for at least 100 yards. . . Backup running back Kendall Hunter added a career-high 81 yards on 11 rushes. . . Undrafted rookie tight end Garrett Celek, the only 49ers' rookie in uniform, recorded his first career reception, a 4-yard pass from Smith . . . Kicker David Akers has kicked at least one field goal in 21 consecutive games to tie Bruce Gossett's team record. Gossett achieved the mark from Nov. 19, 1970, to Oct. 1, 1972. . . Linebacker Patrick Willis recorded his first forced fumble of the season and the 13th of his career.

Joe Montana: Dwight Clark appreciates all the support from former teammates


Joe Montana: Dwight Clark appreciates all the support from former teammates

More than 35 players from the 49ers’ first Super Bowl champion will be in attendance on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium to show support for Dwight Clark, who revealed in March he was diagnosed with ALS.

Clark, 60, will have ample opportunity to reconnect with some of his old friends on Saturday evening and again on Sunday. At halftime, Joe Montana, surrounded by most of the 49ers' 1981 team, will introduce Clark before a video tribute.

Clark is also expected to make some remarks while situated in a suite for the 49ers’ game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Montana and his wife, Jennifer, have remained in close contact with Clark and his wife, Kelly. The Clarks recently watched the Blue Angels in San Francisco with the Montanas during Fleet Week.

“He’s getting pretty inundated with everyone staying in touch with him at this point,” Montana said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.

“It’s fun for him. At one point, he was telling his wife, Kelly, ‘This is what it’s all about. This is what I want and what I miss, seeing the guys.’ So any of the guys reaching out to him, he surely appreciates it.”

Montana said Clark has not lost his positive outlook or his sense of humor, as evidenced by some not-fit-for-print words he recently had about his wheelchair. Montana said there are always some good laughs and stories any time Clark gets together with his friends.

“That’s the fun part," Montana said. “You just try to get him to forget what’s there, and that you’re there for him whenever. I think the support is the biggest thing right now. In that stage of ALS, it's got to be getting tough, where all of a sudden, things are becoming more and more difficult.”

Roger Goodell: 'What we are trying to stay out of is politics'


Roger Goodell: 'What we are trying to stay out of is politics'

NEW YORK — The NFL is not changing its national anthem policy to require players to stand during the national anthem.

Commissioner Roger Goodell and several owners said Wednesday at the league’s fall meetings that altering the language from “should stand” to “must stand” was not discussed.

New York Giants owner John Mara noted that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones “spoke at length” to the other owners about the anthem issue. Jones has said any Dallas player who doesn’t stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” would not be playing.

Goodell reiterated that the league and its 32 clubs “believe everyone should stand for the national anthem. It’s an important part of our policy and the game. It’s important to honor our flag and our country and I think our fans expect that.”

Asked about any owners who threatened discipline for players who didn’t stand, Goodell said the owners didn’t discuss it.

“There was a fair amount of conversation and I think our clubs see it the same way. I can’t deal with hypotheticals,” Goodell said.

Reminded that President Donald Trump tweeted again Wednesday about the demonstrations during the anthem, Goodell said there was nothing unpatriotic about his league.

“Everyone feels strongly about our country and have pride,” he said, adding the NFL is “not afraid of tough conversations.

“What we are trying to stay out of is politics.”

Goodell noted that only six or seven players are still kneeling or are involved in protests.

“We hope we will continue to work to put that at zero,” he said.

On Tuesday, in an unprecedented move for a league meeting, a group of 11 owners and more than a dozen players met for more than two hours at NFL headquarters. Among the topics discussed was enhancing the players’ platforms for speaking out on social issues.

“I understand the way they feel about these issues,” Goodell said Wednesday. “We feel the same about patriotism and the flag and I believe our players feel that way. We have a great deal of support for the efforts of our players.”